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Fatal Propane Gas Explosion In New York

Published August 9, 2012 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

Last month, an explosion at a family home in Wilson, NY, killed a 14-year-old daughter and left the house in a pile of rubble, according to local news reports. Both parents, another sister and a brother were hospitalized with serious injuries. The daughter is in critical condition in the Erie County Medical Center with severe burns.

Investigators are focusing on a propane tank as the source of the explosion. According to the investigators, the homeowners said they had smelled gas the day before, but it is unclear if it was reported.

Emergency responders report that a home carbon monoxide detector will not pick up either natural gas or propane gas, so they encourage homeowners to call 911 if they believe they smell gas. Erie County Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth said that a leak in a tank can be detected by spraying the tank with hot soapy water. If bubbles form, there is a leak. “That’s how HAZMAT teams will check in many cases for leaks,” he said.

Neaverth said propane is as safe and as regulated as natural gas. He said that although thousands of homes use propane gas, it is often years before something like this happens locally. He added that the debris field, combined with the amount of propane left in the tank, will help investigators determine a cause.

A 2009 newsletter from PEAK Aristatek, a Hazmat responder support company, reports that firefighters in the United States respond to approximately one propane incident a day. These are primarily limited to rural areas where the use of propane is higher. PEAK Aristatek estimates there are about 17.5 million propane installations across the country.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that the primary area of origin for a propane fire is in the kitchen, typically starting with a spark, ember or flame. It further reports that the leading factor contributing to the ignition is a leak or break.

Our Binghamton personal injury attorneys encourage homeowners who use propane fuel to have the tanks and hose connections checked periodically to ensure there are no leaks. Also, if you or anyone in the house detects a gaseous odor, please report it immediately.

If you have been injured, or lost a loved one, due to a fire or explosion that was the result of faulty equipment or negligence by another party, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact a NY personal injury attorney to understand your legal rights.

About Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney, handles all types of personal injury and motor vehicle accident cases, including cases involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles and boats. The firm also represents clients in actions for wrongful death, cancer misdiagnosis, dog bites, hunting accidents, birth injuries, brain injuries, construction accidents, fall down injuries and insurance settlements. The firm regularly employs accident reconstruction experts, investigators, photographers and economists to assist in evaluating and preparing personal injury cases. In 2008, the firm reached the $100-million mark in combined lifetime verdicts and settlements. The firm features offices in Binghamton, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse and Watertown. For more information, call (800) Talk-Law or use the firm’s online contact form.

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